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Lawsuits Over Damage Caused By Thimerosal in Vaccines


A surge of lawsuits allege that vaccinations triggered autism


Margaret Cronin Fisk
The National Law Journal
March 20, 2002

In the months after Joseph Alexander Counter was born in 1996, he appeared to be progressing normally.

He had met all his development milestones and by the age of 20 months had a growing vocabulary, says plaintiffs' attorney Andrew Waters of Dallas' Waters & Kraus.

Jac Counter - before autism

Joseph Counter, at about age 1

"He was able to say Mama and Dada and fire truck, sort of," Waters says. "But then he lost all of his language and the only way he could communicate was by screaming."

The boy was diagnosed with autism and then tested and found to have high levels of mercury exposure. Seemingly, there was noexplanation for this. As an infant, "Jac" -- the boy's nickname, based on his initials -- hadn't been unusually exposed to any heavy metals. But as the boy's parents, Joseph and Theresa Counter, began researching Web sites and contacting support groups for parents of autism, a theory developed.

From his first weeks of life onward, Jac had received all his scheduled vaccinations, and the vaccines he received contained a preservative called thimerosal. Thimerosal, by weight, was 49.6 percent mercury. In May 2001, the Counters, of Plano, Texas, sued a slew of vaccine and thimerosal makers, charging that exposure to the mercury in the vaccines caused Jac's autism.

Jac Counter - after onset of Autism

Joseph Counter, at about age 4

Autism is a neurological disorder characterized by a range of symptoms, including social withdrawal, loss or lack of development of language, cognitive deficits, attention deficit traits, poor hearing, oversensitivity to light or sound, poor eye-hand coordination, jerky movements, such as thrashing about, or repetitive movements, such as circling, spinning or rocking in place. The symptoms usually emerge gradually during early childhood and will range in severity depending on the individual.

It was the first case ever filed charging vaccine mercury poisoning, the opening of what has become an onslaught of litigation against the vaccine industry.

Dozens of lawsuits, including putative class actions, have been filed across the country, claiming autism or other neurological defects were caused by exposure to mercury in vaccines.

Dozens more lawsuits are scheduled to be filed in the next few weeks. At least three coalitions of plaintiffs' lawyers have been established to pool resources and share information to litigate these claims. Plaintiffs' attorneys in several states are now advertising on television and in print seeking prospective clients with autistic children.


"We've put together a war chest and are trying to get the cases developed," says plaintiffs' attorney Michael Gallagher of Houston's Gallagher, Lewis, Downey & Kim. The interest from prospective plaintiffs is stunning, he says. "We've had phone calls from several thousand people."

Waters is part of a separate coalition of about 30 law firms nationally.

"We're considering about eight to nine hundred, and we've filed 45 or so," he says. The firms in this coalition are also contributing to a litigation fund.

The attorneys are working together, Waters says, "so we don't have to reinvent the wheel." He declined to say how much money the firms have contributed thus far, but adds, "it will take millions to litigate these cases."

The defendants include the vaccine makers, such as American Home Products Corp., Aventis Pasteur Inc., Merck & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline, and the makers of thimerosal, including Uriach Corp. and Emerck Inc. The plaintiffs are also suing Eli Lilly & Co., which invented the product and promoted its use as a preservative, Waters says.

The claims include products liability, conspiracy and fraud.

The suits over thimerosal are seen by some plaintiffs' lawyers as one of the most enticing causes of action in recent memory.

"The jury appeal is unparalleled," says Waters. "In these cases, you have a small child whose whole life is ahead of him." The child begins life normally, then "degenerates. It's a devastating process."

As a result, the potential damages could be astronomical. "You've got 10, 20, 30 millions in a life-care plan," he says. "That's before talking about the emotional distress or the pain and suffering."


The defendants say that the litigation lacks any basis in reality. "There is an absence of any reliable scientific evidence" linking incidence of autism "to vaccines containing thimerosal," says Nancy Pekarek, vice president of corporate media relations/U.S. for GlaxoSmithKline, which makes several vaccines with the preservative. Following an investigation into possible dangers, she says, "the Institutes of Medicine said there was no harm."

Thimerosal, a water-soluble organic mercury compound, has been used to prevent contamination and bacteria in vaccines since about 1940. Thimerosal was and is considered the most effective agent for preventing bacteria growth in vaccines, Pekarek said.

But the plaintiffs contend that thimerosal is directly connected to a significant rise in the diagnoses of autism.

"Autism once was really, really rare," Gallagher says. "The incident rate was once one in 10,000 births. Now it's 40 per 10,000." In some areas, including California and New Jersey, "the rate is one in 150 births."

The use of thimerosal increased in the 1990s, says Kathleen Dailey of Portland, Ore.'s Williams Dailey O'Leary Craine & Love, as the vaccination schedule changed. Children still received the traditional diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, but the newer HIB flu vaccine and the hepatitis B vaccine were added then.

Many of these vaccine doses, depending on the manufacturer, contained thimerosal, thus upping the potential exposure, Waters asserts. This was exacerbated, Dailey says, by the reliance on multidose vials, which required preservatives to ward off contamination. As the amount of mercury-tainted vaccines delivered to infants increased, the number of autism cases increased as well, she says.

A possible connection between thimerosal and autism was not suspected, however, until the late 1990s, says Lyn Redwood, president of Safe Minds, a support group for parents with autistic children. What set this off, she adds, was a rider on the 1997 Food and Drug Administration reauthorization bill that required the FDA to compile a list of drugs and foods that contained intentionally introduced mercury compounds.

In June 1999, the FDA issued a report indicating that "infants who received thimerosal-containing vaccines at several visits may be exposed to more mercury than recommended by federal guidelines for total mercury exposure."

This news spread among parents with autistic children, says Redwood, who has an 8-year-old son who had been diagnosed with pervasive developmental disorder, a form of autism. Before this, she notes, "I never would have made a correlation between my son's disability and vaccines."

At 2 months of age, Redwood says, her son Will received 62.5 mcg of mercury from three infant vaccines. The Environmental Protection Agency's standard allowable dose, based on the boy's weight, was 0.5 mcg, she says.

"These large injected bolus exposures continued at 4, 6, 12 and 18 months to a total mercury exposure of 237.5 mcg." During his first year of life, said Redwood, her son progressed normally. He began regressing shortly after his first birthday.

Despite the FDA's report that infants were being exposed to larger-than-recommended doses of mercury, there was no ordered recall. But the FDA did ask the vaccine makers to reduce the mercury content and the companies complied, said Pekarek.

In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control issued a report based on its study of thousands of children who had been given thimerosal-containing vaccines.

The study indicated that the data was inconclusive in connecting thimerosal exposure and autism.

But as the news of the presence of mercury in vaccines spread among parents with autistic children, these parents began doing additional research, Redwood says.

What particularly clicked with these parents was that the symptoms and manifestations of mercury poisoning almost perfectly dovetailed with the signs of autism, adds Gallagher. "I've handled some mercury poisoning cases and there is an amazing similarity in how this progresses," he says.

After hearing about the possible thimerosal-autism connection, Redwood had her son's hair tested and discovered that he had a mercury level of 4.8 ppm, well above the EPA's 1 ppm action level for mercury toxicity.

Her group, Safe Minds, filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the CDC in February 2001 seeking all information about its research. Last fall, the group received what it considered the smoking gun, says Safe Minds attorney Elizabeth Birt, who's a parent of an autistic child and an associate at Chicago's Ross & Hardies. The CDC's research had initially found that children who were exposed to 62.5 mcgs of mercury in vaccines in the first three months of life were 2.48 times more likely to develop autism. Anything over two is considered significant, Birt says.

"This report never saw the light of day," adds Waters. Instead, the researcher, Thomas Verstraeten, added more children to the epidemiological study.

The new numbers brought the correlation down to 1.69 times; this figure was cited in the final report. But, he adds, all the children added were under the age of 2 -- or below the age when autism is diagnosed. The researcher, Waters asserts, was subsequently hired by GlaxoSmithKline as a consultant.

As the parents began gathering information, they also began looking for lawyers. And the lawyers contacted began sharing information. Michael Williams of Williams Dailey co-founded and heads the Mercury Vaccine Alliance, an organization of about a dozen plaintiffs' firms that have been involved in filing individual lawsuits and class actions in several states, including Oregon, Washington, New Hampshire, Maine and Massachusetts.

The attorneys in this coalition will be attempting to get class-certified, Williams says. Last July, Williams Dailey filed a class action in state court in Portland, Ore., on behalf of autistic children, contending the plaintiffs had been damaged by exposure to thimerosal.

The class action is seeking medical monitoring, as well as recovery for injuries. There is a separate medical monitoring class action for plaintiffs "who have been exposed, but are not symptomatic," Dailey says. King v. Aventis Pasteur Inc., No. 0106-05780 (Multnomah Co., Ore., Cir. Ct.).

Waters and the other lawyers are eschewing the class action approach, he says, determining that individual lawsuits are the proper method of pursuing personal injury claims.

The exact number of cases filed so far is a moving target. Waters has filed more than 50 and is considering several hundred others. Lyn Redwood's attorney, Michael Weathersby of Atlanta's Evert & Weathersby, has filed her lawsuit in Georgia and will be filing another dozen more in the next 30 to 60 days. Redwood v. American Home Products Corp., No. 2001V0612M (Fayette Co., Ga., Super. Ct.).

Not all autistic children are likely plaintiffs, however, Waters says. If a child shows symptoms from birth of autism, then Waters will not take the case. Instead, he says, he is looking for a child who is normal at birth, and, generally, for the first year beyond.

"You have to make sure it's a regressive case," he says. To prove regression, he adds, complete medical records are essential; videotapes of the child before and after the regression are also critical. "There is a typical fact pattern," adds Weathersby. "Most have achieved early language fluency and then it's like a switch flips. The child becomes regressively autistic." Boys are more likely to undergo this transformation than girls, Weathersby says. "It's about 4 or 5 to one. Mercury sensitivity is more prevalent in males."


"The symptoms don't happen immediately after vaccination," adds Waters. "There is a significant latency period," he says. The doses of mercury are cumulative and act like a time bomb in the child. The number of potential plaintiffs could be enormous. Waters estimates that as many as one-third to one-half of autistic children were injured through exposure to mercury in vaccines. Dailey adds that mercury in vaccines could also be connected to other neurological disorders in children. This includes attention deficit disorder, Dailey says.

The vaccines sold in the United States no longer contain thimerosal, but the ingredient continues to be used in vaccines sold or donated in other nations, Redwood says. In addition, since there was no recall, vials of thimerosal-laced vaccines already purchased are still used in the U.S., she says.

The Counter lawsuit will likely be the first of these thimerosal actions to go to trial. It's scheduled for February 2003. The plaintiffs have already received more than 20,000 documents from the defendants and have scheduled several depositions of defense personnel for mid-April. Counter v. American Home Products, No. 15285 BH01 (Brazoria Co., Texas, Dist. Ct.).

Whatever the results of these trials, the litigation itself may have some harmful effects on future generations of children, Pekarek says. In Britain, she says, following a recent controversy over the measles vaccine, fewer children had the vaccinations and "there was a measles outbreak in the U.K. Whenever people become afraid of vaccines, the incidence of disease rises."





Video Deposition Excerpts

Thimerosal Litigation

Deposition of George Bleazard, Sigma Aldrich Corp., 2.28.02

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Thimerosal Litigation

Deposition of John Haynes, Sigma Aldrich Corp., 3.1.02

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Legislative Threat to Vaccine Injury Compensation



Barely a month after CDC testimony at the June 19th Government Reform Committee hearing revealed an undisclosed CDC study establishing a causal relationship between thimerosal and neuorologic developmental disorders, legislation has been introduced to reduce vaccine liability.

Senate Bill 2053 co-sponsored by Hilary Clinton (D-NY) and William Frist (R-TN), makes it illegal to bring a civil action against a vaccine administrator or manufacturer unless a person proves physical injury and has filed a petition in accordance with the statute of limitations of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. The law further prohibits civil action by a parent of third-party unless "the action is joined with a civil action brought by the person whose vaccine-injury related injury is the basis for the "action."

Critics of the bill say that the legislation is an attempt to deflect the class-action suit filed in April by the Texas firm Waters and Kraus. The suit is the first known civil case alleging that the mercury-based preservative thimerosal, used until recently in over 30 childhood vaccines, has caused mercury poisoning in children. Many of the families involved in the class action suit missed the statute of limitations for making a claim with the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program because their child's vaccine injury was not diagnosed until after the statute of limitations.

According to the National Vaccine Information Center, SB 2053 "would amend the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program in a way that would benefit drug companies and shield them from liability. There are many provisions in the bill but the most problematic one will stop the ability of a vaccine injury victim to bring a lawsuit in civil court."

Senate Bill 2053 further attempts to lay claim to surplus funds in the Vaccine Trust Fund. This money is earmarked for compensation to parents. The bill reads, "Not later than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall submit recommendations regarding how to address the growing surplus in the Vaccine Trust Fund."

In contrast to SB 2053, is the "National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Improvement Act of 2002," HR 3741, introduced in the house by Dan Burton (R-IN) and Henry Waxman (D-CA). This bill seeks instead to extend the statute of limitations for vaccine injury claims, and to ensure payment to lawyers who defend vaccine injured children.

There are a handful of Senators who will handle the Frist next week. If you live in a state that is listed please get in touch with their office immediately. If you don't see your state listed below contact your Senator and tell him or her to oppose this bill and to call Senator Frist and other committee members to ask them to oppose it. Ask them instead to support HR 3741, the Burton and Waxman bill.

Edward Kennedy (D-MA)

Christopher Dodd (D-CT)

Tom Harkin (D-IA)

Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)

James Jeffords (D-VT)

Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)

Paul Wellstone (D-MN)

Patty Murray (D-WA)

Jack Reed (D-RI)

John Edwards (D-NC)

Hillary Clinton (D-NY)

Judd Gregg (R-NH)

Bill Frist (R-TN)

Mike Enzi (R-WY)

Tim Hutchinson (R-AR)

John Warner (R-VA)

Christopher Bond (R-MO)

Pat Roberts (R-KS)

Susan Collins (R-ME)

Jeff Sessions (R-AL)

Mike DeWine (R-OH)

To identify your Senators if they are not on the list: www.senate.gov/contacting/index_by_state.cfm

To view the bill type in SB2053 once you get there: http://thomas.loc.gov/

To call them: 202-224-3121

There is an excellent summary of the bill written by Renee Gentry of the Vaccine Injury Alliance: www.attorneyaccess.net/S2053ByTheNumbers.pdf

For more information on the CDC testimony to the Government Reform Committee: www.house.gov/reform





Update on Mercury Poisoning from Vaccine


The Dallas-based law firm of Waters & Kraus announced today that it has received documents as a result of the discovery process in the case of Counter v. Eli Lilly & Company, et al, currently pending in Brazoria County, Texas that come from the archives of Eli Lilly & Company.

The documents clearly demonstrate that Lilly's thimerosal product, the mercury-based vaccine preservative implicated in a number of recent law suits as causing neurological injury to infants, was known as early as April 1930 to be dangerous.

In its apparent eagerness to promote and market the product, in September, 1930, Eli Lilly secretly sponsored a "human toxicity" study on patients already known to be dying of meningococcal meningitis. Senior partner Andrew Waters stated that, "Lilly then cited this study repeatedly for decades as proof that thimerosal was of low toxicity and harmless to humans.

They never revealed to the scientific community or the public the highly questionable nature of the original research."

While Eli Lilly made every effort to corrupt the medical and scientific literature, the process of arranging to publish the results of its questionable secret study, other researchers have provided Lilly with numerous articles since the 1930's indicating concerns about thimerosal and its potential hazard to humans who might be exposed or injected with the substance.

The evidence clearly demonstrates that Eli Lilly was advised repeatedly that their conclusions of low toxicity were not warranted and that they failed to pass the information on to appropriate federal and public health authorities. The following time line illustrates some, but by no means all, of the documentary evidence on this point from Lilly's internal files:

1947 Article received by Lilly: "No eruptions or reactions have been observed or reported to merthiolate internally, but it may be dangerous to inject a serum containing merthiolate into a patient sensitive to merthiolate."

1948 Article received by Lilly: "Merthiolate is such a commonly used preservative for biologicals, plasma, cartilage, etc., that it would seem important to determine whether harm would result following its subcutaneous or intravenous injection in skin sensitive individuals."

1950 New York Academy of Science article, "Mercurials as Antiseptics:" "It (merthiolate) is toxic when injected parenterally and therefore cannot be used in chemotherapy."

1963 Article received by Lilly: "There is another point of practical significance: does the parenteral injection of merthiolate-containing fluids cause disturbances in merthiolate-sensitive patients?" "It is known that persons that are contact sensitive to a drug may tolerate the same medications internally, but it seems advisable to use a preservative other than merthiolate for injections in merthiolate-sensitive people."

8/17/67 Medical/Science department requests that the claim "non-toxic" on thimerosal labels be deleted in next printing run.

8/29/67 Draft label changed to "non-irritating to body tissues," nontoxic omitted.

1972 British Medical Journal reports case of skin burns resulting from the chemical interaction of thimerosal and aluminum. "Mercury is known to act as a catalyst and to cause aluminum to oxidize rapidly, with the production of heat." "The manufacturers who supply us with thimerosal have been informed." [Thimerosal is being used in vaccines which also contain aluminum].

1972 Article received by Lilly: Merthiolate in vaccines caused six deaths - "The symptoms and clinical course of the six patients suggest subacute mercury poisoning."

4/27/76 Lilly responds to Rexall Drug Company's efforts to place the following warning on Merthiolate product: "Frequent or prolonged use or application to large areas may cause mercury poisoning." Lilly objects to this proposed warning, stating:

"We object to the connection of our trademark with the unjustified alarm and concern on the part of the user which the statement is likely to cause. . We are not aware of any instance of 'mercury poisoning' after decades of marketing this product. This is because the mercury in the product is organically bound ethylmercury as a completely nontoxic nature, not methylmercury."

1/5/82 FDA's advance notice of proposed rule making regarding thimerosal:

"At the cellular level, thimerosal has been found to be more toxic for human epithelial cells in vitro than mercuric chloride, mercuric nitrate, and merbromim (mercurichrom)." "It was found to be 35.3 times more toxic for embryonic chick heart tissue than for staphylococcus areus." 1950 study showed that thimerosal was no better than water in protecting mice from potential fatal streptococcal infection."

"The Panel concludes that thimerosal is not safe for OTC topical use because of its potential for cell damage if applied to broken skin and its allergy potential. It is not effective as a topical antimicrobial because its bacteriastatic action can be reversed."

4/7/83 Additional language added to some Lilly labels: "As with any drug, if you are pregnant or nursing a baby, seek the advice of a health professional before using this product."

1991 Lilly ceases manufacture/sale of thimerosal. Licensing agreements demonstrate continued profits from the product until at least 2010.

12/8/99 Lilly MSDS regarding thimerosal:

"Primary Physical & Reproduction Effects: Nervous System and Reproduction Effects"

"Effects of exposure include fetal changes.

"Mercury poisoning may occur."

"Exposure in children may cause mild to severe mental retardation...."

"Hypersensitivity to mercury is a medical condition aggravated by exposure."

CERCLA Hazardous substance - toxic waste disposal.

Waters & Kraus is litigating a growing number of individual cases across the country involving infants that sustained serious neurological injuries from the thimerosal contained in their pediatric vaccines. Waters & Kraus is leading the following coalition of firms in bringing these cases to trial.

Additional inquiries should be addressed to Melissa Miles at Waters & Kraus (Dallas), (214) 357-6244 or miles@awpk.com

Potential claimants should call Claire Bothwell at Waters & Kraus (California), (562) 436-8833 or bothwell@awpk.com

March 17, 2002



Vaccine Nation
Stephen Marshall,  November 20, 2002


In what is shaping up to be one of the most draconian weeks since the Bush Administration took power, Tuesday’s Senate ratification of the Homeland Security Act leaves little doubt that corporate interests have a major stake in the post-9/11 re-engineering of American law.

Just one day after the super-secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court’s decision to expand the Justice Department’s power of surveillance over U.S. citizens, Republican lawmakers squeezed the controversial bill through the Senate with a last-minute promise to moderates that it would later be gutted of “special interest” provisions, one of which shields pharmaceutical companies from liability in vaccine-related injury suits. As it stands, the American public will now be subject to forced immunization, under the penalty of fine and imprisonment, without the potential of legal recourse against the companies that manufacture them. And, while Republicans were quick to spin the liability protection as necessary for the bolstering of unfettered bio-technological research (in an era of potentially nation—crippling bio-terrorism), one need only read the fine print that retroactively limits the liability of corporations in major class action suits to see that this is one of the most overtly cynical cases of the government’s exploitation of the public panic over terrorism to further its political goals and pay back blue chip corporate donors.

But, in order to fully understand the reasons for and implications of this new legislation, we must trace the more recent history of vaccinations and the culture of tacit federal complicity that has, since the 9/11 attacks, sought to further entrench the pharmaceutical interests with those of the Bush Administration and, more specifically, in the domestic fight against terror. What emerges is the troubling scenario of a federal government which has deliberately and callously chosen to propel the interests of a potentially criminally negligent corporate sector onto the very people it has been elected to protect. Leaving us, it seems, with the now ubiquitous question: for whose interests are they securing the homeland and at what cost to the freedom of its citizenry?

Stepping back to a decade before the specter of forced vaccinations was even conceivable, evidence began to surface that pediatric vaccinations may have some causal relationship to the staggering rise in autism among American and Western European children. What researchers discovered was that Thimerosal, a commonly used vaccine preservative, contained toxic levels of mercury which could have devastating effects on the neural tissue of young children. Alarmed by the geometrically increasing cases of child autism in the United States (the number tripled in the 90’s alone), a national coalition of concerned parents and medical practitioners sought to expose the government to scientific data proving the correlation between infant brain injury and mercury-laden vaccine formulas. But it wasn’t until 1997, when a totally unrelated FDA study into federal guidelines on mercury toxicity uncovered evidence that essentially corroborated the coalition’s allegations, that the medical establishment began to seriously question the safety of thimerosal-laced vaccinations. Quoting from a recent New York Times Magazine article, illuminatively titled The Not-So-Crackpot Autism Theory:

    The F.D.A. team's conclusions were frightening. Vaccines added [from 1995 – 1999] had tripled the dose of mercury that infants got in their first few months of life. As many as 30 million American children may have been exposed to mercury in excess of Environmental Protection Agency guidelines -- levels of mercury that, in theory, could have killed enough brain cells to scramble thinking or hex behavior.

Incredibly, despite a 1999 FDA conclusion that children who received the recommended number of vaccinations were being exposed to unsafe levels of mercury, the core medical establishment elevated its collective denial to nearly psychotic heights. While some doctors preferred to blame the environment or offer other, equally untenable, theories for the tragic rise in autism, others simply wrote off the oversight as a clinical error without ever turning it back to the pharmaceutical companies who had manufactured the vaccines for public use. Dr. Neal Halsey, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on infectious diseases from 1995 to 1999 (the period in which the mercury levels reached their peak) was quoted in the same Times Magazine article:

    ''My first reaction was simply disbelief, which was the reaction of almost everybody involved in vaccines,'' Halsey says. ''In most vaccine containers, thimerosal is listed as a mercury derivative, a hundredth of a percent. And what I believed, and what everybody else believed, was that it was truly a trace, a biologically insignificant amount. My honest belief is that if the labels had had the mercury content in micrograms, this would have been uncovered years ago. But the fact is, no one did the calculation.''

It was not until the 1999 FDA recommendation that vaccine manufacturers “voluntarily” drop Thimerosal from their formulas that anti-vaccine coalitions gained some political traction and public support for their claims against the major pharmaceutical companies. But, for hundreds of thousands of behaviorally impaired children, this realization may have come too late. In what could well be one of the most potentially tragic stories of the last half century, the medical establishment has acted about as expediently as the Catholic Church in dealing with pedophiliac abuse by its priesthood. In fact, many doctors continued to administer Thimerosal-laced vaccinations right up until the last dosages left the manufacturer plants. A practice that seems, at the least, professionally negligent when you consider the volume of anecdotal evidence and public outcry that was being leveled at the practice of giving children mercury-inclusive vaccinations.

    "It's outrageous to think that injecting a child with all that toxicity is an acceptable risk," said Bernard Rimland, director of the Autism Research Institute in San Diego. "It's also outrageous that despite such compelling evidence of harm, the medical community would subject children to it."

And so it is under this climate of intense scrutiny and potentially devastating class action litigation that the Senate passed the Homeland Security bill, with its future and retroactive liability protection for the vaccine-manufacturing pharmaceutical sector. Just at a time when mainstream news publications have finally begun to publicly air and corroborate long-standing accusations of a major cover-up by pharmaceutical companies of their guilt in producing mercury-poisoned vaccines to a generation of child immunization patients, many of whom have developed autism and other forms of neural damage as a result. And it may not end there. In a radio interview broadcast after the Senate vote, Dr. Len Horowitz, one of the leading voices for increased public scrutiny of the pharmaceutical sector, warned:

    "This legislation not only impacts the victims of mercury poisoning, but equally guarantees that other ongoing class action lawsuits, such as those waged on behalf of polio vaccine recipients who developed cancer from monkey virus contaminations, will have no legal recourse.

    Nor will those affected by Gulf War Syndrome as a result of drug and vaccine side effects, military personnel recently inoculated who became ill from anthrax vaccinations, and claimants who cite recent studies increasingly proving early hepatitis B vaccines triggered the international AIDS pandemic."

Putting this all into perspective, Big Tobacco could have learned a lot from the pharmaceutical giants.

One of the chief beneficiaries of the Homeland Security provisions is Eli Lilly, a former Thimerosal producer who has become the poster child for mercury poisoning class action law suits. When executives of Eli Lilly were interviewed about the last minute provision for a November 16 article in the St. Petersburg Times, they said they were “pleased with the amendment but [had] no idea how it wound up being attached to the homeland security bill.” And, while the paper did allude to the fact that Lilly had contributed $1.6 million to congressional candidates before the November 5 election, the most of any pharmaceutical corporation, it did not report that Sydney Taurel the firm’s Chairman, President and CEO was

    "....appointed in June 2002 to the President’s Homeland Security Advisory Council, a select group whose members were chosen to provide George W. Bush with advice on homeland security matters."

Nor did it recount the particularly troublesome fact that, in 1977, George Bush Sr. was made a director of Eli Lilly, a position that was offered to him by former Vice President Dan Quayle’s father, who then owned a controlling interest in the company. The legacy of the Bush family’s ties to U.S. pharmaceutical interests and, specifically, Eli Lilly, is an exhaustive subject of research itself. Suffice it to say, there is ample evidence for us to understand the current Bush Administration’s desire to provide sanctuary for the company from its ever increasing number of alleged victims. What is, perhaps, more alarming than this blatant level of political cronyism is the little known MEHPA legislation and the direct implications it holds for citizens and doctors who refuse to trust the vaccines forced upon them by this government and its allegedly, criminally, negligent pharmaceutical backers.

To backtrack, the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act was first drafted in December, 2001. Four days before Christmas, actually, so we can safely assume that it was not something that was encountered with the most reassuring degree of public scrutiny. But, as with much of the post-9/11 legislation, the Act came into being and was swiftly endorsed by one of the Bush Adminstration's seemingly endless entourage of white knights. In this case, Dept. of Health and Human Services Secretary, Tommy Thompson. In describing the new legislation, even the typically bland USA Today Health and Science reporter Mimi Hall could not veil its ominous potential:

    A model law developed for the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and provided to state legislatures last year would give authorities the right to enforce quarantines, vaccinate people, seize and destroy property without compensation, and ration medical supplies, food and fuel in a public-health emergency.

In other words, the worst-case-scenario interpretation of the legislation is that U.S. citizens living in MEHPA adopting states will:

    * have a mandatory vaccination or be charged with a crime,

    * get a mandatory medical exam, or be charged with a crime and,


    * doctors in those states will give the exam or be charged with a crime

    * property can be seized if there is "reasonable cause to believe" that it may pose a public health hazard... it can be burned or destroyed and you will not have recourse or compensation.

Now, as far as the powers granted to the State Governor under the provisions of the Act, they are what you would expect. The Governor is granted unrestricted power to declare an emergency at his own discretion. The legislature can not interfere for at least 60 days and, even after that deadline, a two-thirds vote of both chambers would be needed to block the dictatorial powers.

Since the latest reports regarding the number of states that had passed the law were from last summer, we cannot confirm their accuracy. But, as of late July, USA Today reported that "16 states and the District of Columbia have passed all or parts of the model law. It has been rejected or stalled in 22 states." One of the first states to pass it was Secretary Thompson's own Wisconsin (he was formerly the Governor). And, as Barbara Flynn, founder of CHERUBS reported, the criminalization of vaccine-resistors is hardly symbolic:

    On February 27, 2002, the Wisconsin Legislature passed a Mandated Vaccination/ Emergency Health Powers Act which calls for a $10,000 fine and /or nine months in prison for those who refuse vaccinations.

In describing the way that Federal agencies are using monetary incentives to fuel pro-MEHPA legislation, Flynn cited this case from her home state of New Jersey:

    In an article in New Jersey’s Daily Record on January 20, 2002, District 21 Assemblyman Dr. Eric Munoz promised to spearhead a Rapid Mass Smallpox Immunization Plan for New Jersey. And in the February 1, 2002 edition of the Star-Ledger we find that the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has offered New Jersey $26.8 million to "come up with a plan" by April 15, 2002.

So, as you can see, there was a very strong movement coming from the Administration's core clinical assets for the passage of this Act. And, as history proves, this is not the first time that the American citizenry has faced this kind of authoritarian directive from the medical establishment. Here is a quote from Jamie Murphy's seminal book on vaccines, What Every Parent Should Know about Childhood Immunization:

    In 1902, Cambridge Massachusetts Board of Health passed an ordinance that required everyone to get smallpox vaccinations every 5 years or pay a $5 fine. Henning Jacobsen and his son who had both suffered severe and prolonged reactions to the vaccine refused both the vaccine and the fine. Both were found guilty by the Massachusetts Supreme Court and Jacobsen vs. Massachusetts became the first and only vaccination case to reach the highest court. The Supreme Court ignored compelling evidence that the vaccines did not work and were dangerous.

    "While we do not decide and cannot decide that vaccination is a preventative of smallpox, we take judicial notice of the fact that this is the common belief of the people of the State, and with this fact as a foundation we hold that the statute in question is a health law, enacted as a reasonable and proper exercise of police power."

Incredibly, the Supreme Court was basing its decision on the widely held, public conception of vaccines instead of any empirical, scientific evidence. Which can be a dangerous thing. Especially, as we have seen, when it comes to vaccination. The new Homeland Security bill has now, once again, pushed the debate over vaccines and their potentially harmful effects outside of the public realm. Reacting to the news of the Senate vote, National Vaccine Information Center president Barbara Loe Fisher summed it up thusly:

    "Several years ago the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) commissioned the creation of the Model State Emergency Health Powers Act which would give sweeping new powers to public health officials. They have tried to get that law passed in every state but have failed so far. So now they are going to go federal and get the power they have wanted for years. This bill is a violation of freedom in the name of protecting freedom. At the very least there should be informed consent protections in the bill to allow exemptions to vaccination and medical treatment for conscientious and religious beliefs as well as quarantine protections for those who exercise them.”

In his remarks following the Senate vote, President Bush called the new Homeland Security legislation “the most extensive reorganization of the federal government since the 1940s.” And while there is no doubt about the fact that he is at the helm of a verifiable dismantling of the American socio-political super-structure – a process upon which the citizenry seems to have very little impact - we must not lose sight of the one physical realm that we should, at all costs, remain autonomous over.

Our bodies.

If this Administration is allowed to progress, unchallenged, with this new assault on the human right to consensual medical treatment, we will have fallen to the status of guinea pigs... defenseless before the poking and prodding by State practitioners with all manner of biological technologies. If ever there was an issue that should congeal the masses around the protestation of this ever-advancing incursion on our civil liberties, it should form as the last barrier to that final border.

Our skin.

And perhaps we should begin by demanding answers to the most basic of questions. Namely, if the vaccines are so effective, then why are those who opt out of them considered such a risk to the immunized populace? Especially to the extent that they are going to be criminalized and fined? And, furthermore, if such drastic measures are being contemplated in respect to the collective health and welfare of the U.S. population, why can't more scrutiny and funding be allocated for an investigation into the rise in autism among child immunization clients, as well as an entire generation's sudden affliction of "attention deficit disorders"?

Otherwise, we may just wake a little too late from our collective political somnambulism... but just in time to hear the benevolent nurse whisper,

    "Now just bend over... this won't hurt a bit."

Stephen Marshall is co-founder and Creative/Strategic director of GNN.

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